I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately, for various reasons, so here’s a post that should be about what I read last week but is actually about the (alarmingly) few things I’ve read since mid-October. (Honestly, I need to stop playing Star Trek: Timelines so much. And procrastinating because I haven’t got any images ready. That would help too. Oh, and I could probably give reading fan-fiction a miss for a little while…)
The new camp counselor, Seafarin’ Karen breathes some fresh life into this volume of Lumberjanes, but her presence is (sadly) short-lived. I’m so-so on Lumberjanes at the moment, I must admit. I loved the first few volumes but five and six have been a bit more hit and miss. Still, the girls themselves remain awesome and there are wormholes in this one, which is always a plus.
Over on my Instagram account, I captioned a picture of this book with the following: “A low-key yet incredibly disturbing read.” And I really can’t think of a better way to sum it up. Harry and Michel are guards in a luxury block of apartments that can only be accessed via the basement. They receive food drops from ‘the Organisation’ and otherwise have no contact with the outside world. First there is a mass exodus of residents, next their food drops become irregular, and then there is the third guard… The Guard is a carefully controlled book, passive, almost, in its telling. There are no hysterics or dramatic revelations and yet things get dark, people, they get really, really dark. It’s not a book for everyone, but it’s stuck with me, which I think is often the sign of something worth reading.
Go read this book! Honestly, you won’t regret it. It’s informative and charming and powerful, and definitely worth your time. My favourite thing about A History of Britain in 21 Women is how personal a book it is. These are 21 women who changed Britain, yes, but they’re also 21 women who made a deep impression on Jenni Murray herself. She doesn’t always agree with what they did or what they stood for, but her appreciation for their determination and strength is a deep and inspiring thing. To my surprise, there’s a chapter about Constance Markievicz, a leading figure in the 1916 Rising in Ireland, and the first woman to be elected to British parliament (as I have mentioned on this blog before, she did not take her seat). I was delighted to see her included, and also to see reference to the Sligo Women’s Suffrage Society (hup the women!), but dismayed at Murray’s pronunciation of Irish names, words and placenames (I listened to the audiobook). I mean, I laughed because they were ridiculous at time, but it can’t be that find to find someone to give you the correct pronunciation of common phrases and names, can it? Murray also had a lamentable habit of putting on accents, a quirk which was completely distracting during her chapters on Nancy Astor and Nicola Sturgeon (I mean, she didn’t even come close to the type of accent Nicola Sturgeon has!). These audio oddities aside, nothing can take away from the power of this passionate and articulate book.
On his way home from work one day, our protagonist gets out of his car, currently stuck in a traffic jam, and decides to run home because, and I’m not kidding, once when he was at University, he ran a marathon without training even a little bit. That really should have been a warning to me that I was not going to enjoy this book. Thirst is ostensibly about what happens to a community when all natural water disappears without warning (or explanation. The best we get is that maybe it ‘burned’). You’ll be shocked to hear that what happens is that everyone turns on each other and things get dark really fast. Eddie, for example, decides to rob his elderly neighbour while pretending to check she’s okay, not that he cares if she’s okay it’s just that his wife might and he wants to impress her. I think we’re supposed to point to the stressful set of circumstances as the reason for Eddie being a massive arsehole, but, honestly, it seems like he was an arsehole to begin with. The text is littered with references to Eddie trying to socially isolate his wife, and being a general dickhead to everyone around him, so, no, I didn’t find him sympathetic, I didn’t enjoy reading about him, and I think that a lot of what happened was actually his fault in the first place because he’s a massively self-involved, self-impressed wanker.
I can’t praise this adaptation enough. The cast are all spirited and sympathetic (one of the things that bugs me about the movie is how poorly Victoria Forrester comes across when, actually, she’s just a bit flighty), the narration is warm and amusing, the music is sparse yet perfectly used… Yeah, a pretty perfect adaptation, I have to say. Definitely recommended for fans of the book.
This book unfolds itself slowly, beautifully and heart-wrenchingly. The story of Thaniel, a clerk in the Home Office, Mori, a Japanese watchmaker, and an Irish Republican bombing campaign (sort of), it is quiet, complicated and wonderful. Steampunk meets detective story meets romance meets sci-fi meets fantasy meets magical realism meets historical fiction meets ‘hey! Foreigners and women are people too!’. There’s so much I want to say about The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, but my biggest enjoyment came from not knowing key elements in advance. Read carefully and closely, pay attention, and this book will reward you tenfold. Oh, and there’s a clockwork octopus. If that doesn’t interest you, I don’t know what will. (I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT THE ENDING SO I NEED SOMEONE TO FLAIL ABOUT IT TO!)